Police arrested Qi at his home in Cangzhou, Hebei Province. His wife told reporters that officers confiscated his computer, printer, fax machine, and a number of documents. Qi, an economist, has published many articles in intellectual journals and online publications calling for economic and political reforms. He was also associated with the online magazine Canzhao (Consultations), a publication linked to the banned China Development Union.
On May 30, 2000, Qi was prosecuted for subversion before the Cangzhou People’s Court in a closed, half-day trial. He was sentenced to four years in prison on September 19, 2000. His sentencing papers cited as evidence articles he had written for Hong Kong magazines and overseas Web sites.